Looking to get the party going but don’t want to deal with the hassle of inviting extra wires into your home? Portable speakers are a great solution.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’re in the market for a portable speaker, plus our picks for the best portable speaker you can buy in 2019.
Portable Speakers: How do they work?
Most portable speakers work via Bluetooth.
Essentially, you pair them with an audio source in the same way you would a set of wireless headphones. Some brands require you to install an app first but, for the most part, setting up a portable speaker is a pretty straightforward affair with few exceptions.
What to look for in a portable speaker?
If you’re looking to buy a portable speaker and get the best value for your money, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.
First up, battery life. The intrinsic drawback that separates wireless speakers from the stationary counterparts is that they’re pretty reliant on a built-in battery.
When buying a portable speaker, it’s always worth checking just frequently you’ll have to charge your mobile sound system. This part should go without saying but more battery life is basically always better than less battery life.
The second thing you’ll want to look for is good durability. A lot of major brands now offer dust, dirt and even water resistance as a standard feature in many of their portable speakers.
Having a portable speaker with an IP rating against water damage means that you can take your speaker out to the pool without worrying about breaking it - which is always useful.
Another thing that you ought to keep in mind is whether or not you want a portable speaker with any smart features. Sometimes, this might just be as simply as an integrated app that supports an equaliser. Other times, a portable speaker might support integration with smart assistants like Amazon Alexa.
Either way, deciding ahead of time whether or not these are things you’re interested in can make it easier to decide on a portable speaker - as the category is quite diverse.
The last major thing you should consider when it comes to choosing a portable speaker is scalability. Simply put, this is the ability of a wireless speaker to work with other wireless speakers.
JBL’s Flip speakers can be synchronised with one another at the press of a button - allowing you to easily assemble a multi-speaker system throughout your home. If that’s something you’re interested in, then you should definitely consider scalability before buying a portable speaker.
Best Portable Speakers
Ultimate Ears MegaBoom 3
The Megaboom 3 is still the latest and greatest portable speaker from Ultimate Ears. If you’re after an easy answer to the question of “which portable speaker should I buy?”, this is about as good as it gets.
The Ultimate Ears MegaBoom 3 came equipped with two 50mm full range drivers and a pair of passive radiators. It’s good for a hefty 20 hours of playback per charge and comes in a diverse range of colors and designs.
In Australia, the Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 can be had for an RRP of AU$$299. You can buy it through Amazon here.
If that’s a little dear, you might want to consider the UE Boom 3. It features the same design in a smaller form-factor for about half the price. You can buy it through Amazon here.
Our review of Ultimate Ears’ portable speaker, we said that “despite being one of the biggest names in the party speaker space, Ultimate Ears Megaboom 3 still manages to meet expectations.”
Anker SoundCore Boost
If you’re after something that’s a little more competitive on price and looks a little more like a conventional speaker, then the Anker SoundCore Boost 20W Bluetooth Speaker might be what you’re looking for.
The Anker SoundCore Boost features IPX5 water-resistance, 12 hours of battery life and a dedicated button that ups the bass when needed.
In our review of the Anker SoundCore Boost, we said that “For the price, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better speaker. I’d go so far as to call it a bargain.”
You can read our full review here.
The Sonos Move is the first Sonos speaker that’s wire-free and, while it is a lot more expensive than a lot of other options, that premium price does come with significantly better results. You can also integrate it within an existing Sonos system, which you can’t really do with any of the other options.
As for battery life, the Sonos Move is good for about ten hours. That isn’t quite as long as the battery life found in some of the cheaper alternatives from JBL and Ultimate Ears but it’s still plenty of time to work with.
“If you’re after a Sonos that’ll work over Bluetooth, this is that. If you’re after a Sonos that you can carry around your house with ease, it’s that too. However, it’s much better at one than the other and it’s not hard to imagine how both sides of the equation could be refined and improved.”
After something a little smarter? Check out our guide to buying a smart speaker here.